Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Intelligence is irrelevant to a happy old age

Huh. I was once on a lunch date with 2 female university professors who are friends of mine, and I asked idly if they'd like to be smarter. You know, to be able to do something really great, like cure cancer, or invent a new method of collecting lint off black clothes. Of course I would, so I was surprised when they said no! Their reasons were largely about social integration, I gathered. (I did wonder if men would have responded the same way to the same question.)

Since we can't be magically smarter, I guess this is good news for us all: being smart doesn't make you happy in your old age. The next question is, does it actually make you unhappier?

New Scientist Breaking News - Intelligence is irrelevant to a happy old age:

Previous studies have shown that people who possess attributes regarded as desirable by modern Western society, such as intelligence, money or sporting talent are rewarded with higher social status, a better paid job and a more comfortable standard of living. Higher social standing has also been linked to increased happiness. However, Gow and his co-authors suggest that intelligent people may also be more concerned about achievement and more aware of alternative lifestyles, which may lead to dissatisfaction.


Anonymous said...

Is a lack of intelligence really what stops people from doing great things such as cure cancer?

I know too many smart people that have done nothing great to think that more intelligence would help. It's something else.

Erik said...

It must have been something.

One of my favorite NYT Magazine pieces ever was an article by Jon Gertner about humans' inability to predict what will make them happy: legit version, free copyright violation.